Top 10+ why is nuclear energy good

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The latest figures on global carbon dioxide emissions call into question the world’s efforts to tackle the climate crisis. CO2 emissions are set to soar 4.9% in 2021, compared with the previous year, according to a study published earlier this month by the Global Carbon Project (GCP), a group of scientists that track emissions.

In 2020, emissions dropped 5.4% due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns. Most observers expected a rebound this year — but not to such an extent. The energy sector continues to be the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, with a share of 40% — and rising.

But what about nuclear? Supporters of the controversial energy source say it’s a climate-friendly way to generate electricity. At the very least, it’s something we could use until we’re able to develop comprehensive alternatives. In recent weeks, particularly during the COP26 climate summit, advocates have been creating a stir online with statements like “if you’re against nuclear energy, you’re against climate protection” and “nuclear energy is about to make a comeback.” But is there anything to it?

Is nuclear power a zero-emissions energy source?

No. Nuclear energy is also responsible for greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, no energy source is completely free of emissions, but more on that later.

When it comes to nuclear, uranium extraction, transport and processing produces emissions. The long and complex construction process of nuclear power plants also releases CO2, as does the demolition of decommissioned sites. And, last but not least, nuclear waste also has to be transported and stored under strict conditions — here, too, emissions must be taken into account.

Dismantling nuclear power plants — as seen here in Mülheim-Kärlich, Germany — also produces CO2Image: Thomas Frey/dpa/picture alliance

And yet, interest groups claim nuclear energy is emission-free. Among them is Austrian consulting firm ENCO. In late 2020, it released a study prepared for the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy that looked favorably at the possible future role of nuclear in the Netherlands.

“The main factors for its choice were reliability and security of supply, with no CO2 emission,” it read. ENCO was founded by experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency, and it regularly works with stakeholders in the nuclear sector, so it’s not entirely free of vested interests.

At COP26, environmental initiative Scientists for Future (S4F) presented a paper on nuclear energy and the climate. The group came to a very different conclusion. “Taking into account the current overall energy system, nuclear energy is by no means CO2 neutral,” they said.

Ben Wealer of the Technical University of Berlin, one of the report’s authors, told DW that proponents of nuclear energy “fail to take into account many factors,” including those sources of emissions outlined above. All the studies reviewed by DW said the same thing: Nuclear power is not emissions-free.

How much CO2 does nuclear power produce?

Results vary significantly, depending on whether we only consider the process of electricity generation, or take into account the entire life cycle of a nuclear power plant. A report released in 2014 by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), for example, estimated a range of 3.7 to 110 grams of CO2 equivalent per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

It’s long been assumed that nuclear plants generate an average of 66 grams of CO2/kWh — though Wealer believes the actual figure is much higher. New power plants, for example, generate more CO2 during construction than those built in previous decades, due to stricter safety regulations.

Studies that include the entire life cycle of nuclear power plants, from uranium extraction to nuclear waste storage, are rare, with some researchers pointing out that data is still lacking. In one life cycle study, the Netherlands-based World Information Service on Energy (WISE) calculated that nuclear plants produce 117 grams of CO2 emissions per kilowatt-hour. It should be noted, however, that WISE is an anti-nuclear group, so is not entirely unbiased.

However, other studies have come up with similar results when considering entire life cycles. Mark Z. Jacobson, director of the Atmosphere / Energy Program at California’s Stanford University, calculated a climate cost of 68 to 180 grams of CO2/kWh, depending on the electricity mix used in uranium production and other variables.

How climate-friendly is nuclear compared to other energies?

If the entire life cycle of a nuclear plant is included in the calculation, nuclear energy certainly comes out ahead of fossil fuels like coal or natural gas. But the picture is drastically different when compared with renewable energy.

According to new but still unpublished data from the state-run German Environment Agency (UBA) as well as the WISE figures, nuclear power releases 3.5 times more CO2 per kilowatt-hour than photovoltaic solar panel systems. Compared with onshore wind power, that figure jumps to 13 times more CO2. When up against electricity from hydropower installations, nuclear generates 29 times more carbon.

Could we rely on nuclear energy to help stop global warming?

Around the world, nuclear energy representatives, as well as some politicians, have called for the expansion of atomic power. In Germany, for example, the right-wing populist AfD party has backed nuclear power plants, calling them “modern and clean.” The AfD has called for a return to the energy source, which Germany has pledged to phase out completely by the end of 2022.

Other countries have also supported plans to build new nuclear plants, arguing that the energy sector will be even more damaging for the climate without it. But Wealer from Berlin’s Technical University, along with numerous other energy experts, sees takes a different view.

“The contribution of nuclear energy is viewed too optimistically,” he said. “In reality, [power plant] construction times are too long and the costs too high to have a noticeable effect on climate change. It takes too long for nuclear energy to become available.”

Mycle Schneider, author of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report, agrees.

“Nuclear power plants are about four times as expensive as wind or solar, and take five times as long to build,” he said. “When you factor it all in, you’re looking at 15-to-20 years of lead time for a new nuclear plant.”

He pointed out that the world needed to get greenhouse gases under control within a decade. “And in the next 10 years, nuclear power won’t be able to make a significant contribution,” added Schneider.

“Nuclear power is not being considered at the current time as one of the key global solutions to climate change,” said Antony Froggatt, deputy director of the environment and society program at the international affairs think tank Chatham House in London.

He said a combination of excessive costs, environmental consequences and lack of public support were all arguments against nuclear power.

Nuclear funding could go toward renewables

Due to the high costs associated with nuclear energy, it also blocks important financial resources that could instead be used to develop renewable energy, said Jan Haverkamp, a nuclear expert and activist with environment NGO Greenpeace in the Netherlands. Those renewables would provide more energy that is both faster and cheaper than nuclear, he said.

“Every dollar invested in nuclear energy is therefore a dollar diverted from true urgent climate action. In that sense, nuclear power is not climate-friendly,” he said.

In addition, nuclear energy itself has been affected by climate change. During the world’s increasingly hot summers, several nuclear power plants have already had to be temporarily shut down or taken off the grid. Power plants depend on nearby water sources to cool their reactors, and with many rivers drying up, those sources of water are no longer guaranteed.

The much vaunted “renaissance of nuclear power” is anything but when all the facts are taken into consideration, Mycle Schneider told DW. He said the nuclear industry has been shrinking for years.

“In the last 20 years, 95 nuclear power plants have gone online and 98 have been shut down. If you take China out of the equation, the number of nuclear power plants has shrunk by 50 reactors in the last two decades,” Schneider added. “The nuclear industry is not thriving.”

Additional reporting by Jo Harper and Gero Rueter

This article was translated from German by Martin Kübler

Correction, November 30, 2021: A previous version of this article unintentionally omitted one of two sources in the graphic ‘How does electricity affect the environment?’. The Umweltbundesamt and WISE are the sources of the data. DW apologizes for the error.

Top 18 why is nuclear energy good edit by Top Q&A

Is Nuclear Energy Clean: Answers and Explanations – Greenly

  • Author: greenly.earth
  • Published Date: 08/06/2022
  • Review: 4.79 (436 vote)
  • Summary: Nuclear energy is produced and used without carbon emissions, as it makes use of uranium instead of fossil fuels. However, some still argue if …
  • Matching search results: “The main factors for its choice were reliability and security of supply, with no CO2 emission,” it read. ENCO was founded by experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency, and it regularly works with stakeholders in the nuclear sector, so …

The Basics of Nuclear Energy — Why Nuclear Power?

  • Author: geoinfo.nmt.edu
  • Published Date: 12/05/2022
  • Review: 4.58 (600 vote)
  • Summary: Advantages · Creates little or no greenhouse gases · Doesn’t use a valuable resource – hydrocarbons · Less other pollution (for example, fly ash) …
  • Matching search results: As with any solution, there are numerous positives and negatives to the issue. In particular, legacy mining issues and nuclear disasters like Chernobyl have left a public perception that nuclear energy can never be safe. Hopefully, by looking at …

5 Compelling Benefits Of Nuclear Energy for the Environment

  • Author: encoreuranium.com
  • Published Date: 12/26/2022
  • Review: 4.2 (510 vote)
  • Summary: Nuclear power plants do not produce any significant amount of greenhouse gases or pollutants. This energy source is safer and more cost- …
  • Matching search results: It is an effective way to reduce carbon emissions. It doesn’t generate any greenhouse gases. In fact, the generation of one MW of nuclear power is equivalent to the renewable energy that is produced by 400 acres of trees. Nuclear power will be the …

What is Nuclear Energy? The Science of Nuclear Power

  • Author: iaea.org
  • Published Date: 12/29/2022
  • Review: 4.13 (345 vote)
  • Summary: Nuclear energy is a form of energy released from the nucleus, … that want to develop a nuclear power programme as well as to those who are …
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Global warming: 7 good reasons for turning to nuclear energy

  • Author: orano.group
  • Published Date: 04/28/2022
  • Review: 3.85 (223 vote)
  • Summary: #1 A Low-carbon energy … Nuclear power is one of the world’s energy sources that emits the least greenhouse gas Its very low CO2 emission rate – four times less …
  • Matching search results: It is an effective way to reduce carbon emissions. It doesn’t generate any greenhouse gases. In fact, the generation of one MW of nuclear power is equivalent to the renewable energy that is produced by 400 acres of trees. Nuclear power will be the …

What is the role of nuclear in the energy mix and in reducing greenhouse gas emissions?

  • Author: lse.ac.uk
  • Published Date: 11/11/2022
  • Review: 3.69 (409 vote)
  • Summary: How much nuclear energy is currently produced worldwide – and in the UK? … plant at Sizewell C in Suffolk, which will be a replica of HPC.
  • Matching search results: The Fukushima disaster triggered by the Japanese tsunami of March 2011 significantly changed the global outlook for nuclear power. In the immediate aftermath, Japan took almost all of its nuclear power plants offline, leading global nuclear power …

Nuclear Energy – Our World in Data

  • Author: ourworldindata.org
  • Published Date: 06/14/2022
  • Review: 3.53 (374 vote)
  • Summary: Explore global data on nuclear energy production, and the safety of nuclear … They are based on power plants in Europe, which have good pollution controls …
  • Matching search results: Solar and wind: these figures are taken directly from: Sovacool, B. K., Andersen, R., Sorensen, S., Sorensen, K., Tienda, V., Vainorius, A., … & Bjørn-Thygesen, F. (2016). Balancing safety with sustainability: assessing the risk of accidents for …

6 reasons why nuclear energy is not the way to a green and peaceful world

  • Author: greenpeace.org
  • Published Date: 06/20/2022
  • Review: 3.22 (493 vote)
  • Summary: 1. Nuclear energy delivers too little to matter. In order to tackle climate change, we need to reduce fossil fuels in the total energy mix well …
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Advantages – Nuclear Energy Institute

  • Author: nei.org
  • Published Date: 07/20/2022
  • Review: 3.07 (519 vote)
  • Summary: Nuclear powers America’s cities and towns more reliably than any other energy source. It holds the key to our high-tech future and drives our highest hopes …
  • Matching search results: Nuclear factories and plants are easy targets for malevolent acts: terrorist threats, the risk of unintentional or voluntary airliner crashes, cyberattacks or acts of war. The enclosures of plants and certain ancillary buildings containing …

Nuclear Energy Is Looking Good Again | IndustryWeek

  • Author: industryweek.com
  • Published Date: 02/25/2022
  • Review: 2.91 (163 vote)
  • Summary: Nuclear Energy Is Looking Good Again · A little history first. When nuclear power plants first came online in the 1960s, they held great promise …
  • Matching search results: Nuclear factories and plants are easy targets for malevolent acts: terrorist threats, the risk of unintentional or voluntary airliner crashes, cyberattacks or acts of war. The enclosures of plants and certain ancillary buildings containing …

Why Europe Is Looking to Nuclear Power to Fuel a Green Future

  • Author: carnegieendowment.org
  • Published Date: 01/04/2023
  • Review: 2.87 (59 vote)
  • Summary: Not all EU member states rely on gas and nuclear as energy fuels. … share of nuclear power and gas in the EU energy sector is too great to …
  • Matching search results: At the same time, the regulation might not lead private investors and institutions to significantly favor nuclear projects under increasingly important environmental, social, and governance considerations. Most of these hard-line exclusions on …

Nuclear Power Economics | Nuclear Energy Costs

  • Author: world-nuclear.org
  • Published Date: 05/20/2022
  • Review: 2.62 (174 vote)
  • Summary: Project engineering, procurement and construction management:
    Design, architecture, engineering and licensing:
  • Matching search results: The World Nuclear Association published Nuclear Power Economics and Project Structuring in early 2017. The report notes that the economics of new nuclear plants are heavily influenced by their capital cost, which accounts for at least 60% of their …

Nuclear Power in a Clean Energy System

  • Author: iea.org
  • Published Date: 07/22/2022
  • Review: 2.64 (54 vote)
  • Summary: Nuclear power and hydropower form the backbone of low-carbon electricity generation. Together, they provide three-quarters of global low-carbon generation.
  • Matching search results: The World Nuclear Association published Nuclear Power Economics and Project Structuring in early 2017. The report notes that the economics of new nuclear plants are heavily influenced by their capital cost, which accounts for at least 60% of their …

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The Pros & Cons of Nuclear Energy: Is it safe?

  • Author: springpowerandgas.us
  • Published Date: 12/18/2022
  • Review: 2.4 (104 vote)
  • Summary: How much more efficient? Nuclear fission is nearly 8,000 times more efficient at producing energy than traditional fossil fuels. That’s a …
  • Matching search results: Nuclear power plants are also reliable because we have enough uranium on the planet to generate energy for the next 70-80 years. While that may not sound like a long time, it is longer than many fossil fuels are estimated to last, and there are …

Why Nuclear Power Must Be Part of the Energy Solution – Yale E360

  • Author: e360.yale.edu
  • Published Date: 02/07/2022
  • Review: 2.42 (176 vote)
  • Summary: Nuclear power releases less radiation into the environment than any other major energy source. Second, nuclear power plants operate at much …
  • Matching search results: Nuclear power plants are also reliable because we have enough uranium on the planet to generate energy for the next 70-80 years. While that may not sound like a long time, it is longer than many fossil fuels are estimated to last, and there are …

Nuclear Energy | MIT Climate Portal

  • Author: climate.mit.edu
  • Published Date: 07/05/2022
  • Review: 2.38 (84 vote)
  • Summary: Nuclear energy meets important needs that other carbon-free energy sources cannot yet match. Unlike wind or solar power, nuclear power does not …
  • Matching search results: Because the nuclear bonds inside atoms hold so much energy, nuclear power plants can make more energy with less fuel than any other technology today. In fact, nuclear power could meet the average American’s lifetime energy needs with an amount of …

Nuclear energy: What you need to know

  • Author: gov.uk
  • Published Date: 04/13/2022
  • Review: 2.09 (73 vote)
  • Summary: As confirmed by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, nuclear power … In the UK, we have a well-respected regulatory system which …
  • Matching search results: The UK government believes that SMRs could play an important role alongside large nuclear as a low-carbon energy source to support a secure, affordable decarbonised energy system. They can be easily manufactured away from the sites where they are …

Is nuclear the overlooked solution for Europes energy woes?

  • Author: euractiv.com
  • Published Date: 10/02/2022
  • Review: 2.17 (167 vote)
  • Summary: Nuclear energy is also much better for the environment. It is a zero-emission clean energy source and the second-largest source of low-carbon …
  • Matching search results: We are now witnessing a rush by European countries to diversify their energy mix. The bloc is looking to secure Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) supplies from the US and Qatar. Some countries, including Germany, are also looking to increase the use of …

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